We’ve been back about a week from our two week Paris get-a-away and, despite being back to everyday life, I’m still feeling the effects of Paris. This was our second time in Paris together, but I’ve been a few times more, so we really wanted to avoid more of the touristy areas and just slink around the city, eat, drink, and relax. Our proclivity toward Paris directly relates to the fact that my husband’s aunt lives there and, the past two times we’ve visited, we’ve stayed in her apartment. Not to mention the that fact since I was first there when I was 17, Paris has been one of my great loves.
Before we left, I think both my husband and I were ready for a vacation (read: high-strung, argumentative, and stressed). My husband, who has developed the not uncommon habit of checking his phone every 5 minutes from the minute he wakes up in the morning until he goes to bed, shocked me by only checking work emails in the evenings, if that, and not mentioning work once during the duration of our trip. I stayed caught up on things a bit more, but luckily a few cases settled/wrapped up while I was in Paris, making the trip that much more enjoyable.
I was anxious before leaving because I wasn’t sure how much of a vacation we would get traveling with a 20 month old toddler. The flight, the cafes, a small Paris apartment, the cafes…he only sleeps so much. But, everything turned out wonderfully, for two main reasons. First, unbeknownst to us, Paris has an incredible, modern, and toddler-friendly system of parks and playgrounds across nearly all the arrondissements. We lived in the 20th during our stay and rode bikes all over the city, experiencing the same thing. Our reaction? (Notice the drool.)
If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I’m not. The best way I can explain life with my son it is to imagine living your day in 45 second increments, becoming nearly instantaneously disinterested with whatever book, toy, or object is immediately in front of you while simultaneously plotting to empty the contents of any nearby drawer, cabinet, bag, pocket, or purse and then taste and/or eat whatever’s inside. He is the next generation of ADHD that hasn’t yet to be identified. I was so exhausted after a full day’s layover during our last trip to South Dakota, I actually witnessed my toddler put some sort of crumb from the airport floor into his mouth and didn’t say anything. In my defense, he was out of arm’s length and would have ignored any instruction I gave him to put it down. So, when we found these little colorful and fabulously crafted play areas, fenced in and prohibiting any escape, where my son could meander happily occupied, we could sit, and there was no possibility of climbing and/or falling more than 2 feet, our vacation was made.
But seriously, have you ever seen anything like this? Yes, everyone knows that Paris has some of the world’s most gorgeous and intricate parks and gardens, not to mention the incredible number of parks per square foot, but the many playgrounds designed for children, and especially toddlers, was jawdropping. The boats photo below was taken at the lush Luxembourg Gardens–our favorite playground of the trip.
Slides, sandboxes, cars, carousels, rockers, climbing nets, and frog walls in the midst of the most meticulously cared for gardens, greenhouses, and rows of rows of benches. Most of the parks we visited featured huge sculptures in the center of park, both historical and modern. My sweet husband even brought bubbles all the way from Maryland. After suggesting it to my husband and getting laughed at and rejected, I did notice signs outside all of the playgrounds that no drinking was allowed inside. First, Paris: I expected more from you than that. And second, the fact that they had to post signs means I wasn’t the first parent to think of it.
The thing about having a kid is that it awakens you to a whole new world of appreciation that was completely outside your prior scope of consciousness. For example, I never would have previously appreciated a bar at the top of a slide. But God bless the Parisian who thought of that–and who thought of placing carousels all over the city— we loved them and so did Judah.
(Sorry for the grainy pictures in this post–my skills are limited and am hoping to have it fixed by next post!)